Odd Diagnosis - Enlarged Aorta???

finnieFebruary 15, 2008

I was having a problem with shortness of breath so I went to my allergy Dr thinking it was due to asthma. While there my breathing test showed that I was only at 62% so she sent me for a myriad of tests to include chest x-ray and bloodwork (which were both normal), then to a pulmonary lab for breathing tests (up to only 70%). The last test was a CAT scan of the chest which showed the lungs were perfectly clear, however, the radiologists says that I have a mild case of enlarged aorta. So now I have to see a cardiologist. Anyone ever hear of this?

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Yes,I have an enlarged aorta. Mine was also seen in a CAT
scan. They were looking for something else which was
negative but found the enlarged chest aorta. My is what's called
an Aneurysum because of its size. I also was sent to a
cardiologist who at this point is watching it. I have
an echocardigram done once a year to see if it has grown,
so far it hasn't. I was told it has to grow to a certain
size before surgery can be done to repair it.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 9:15PM
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clubm - sorry I'm just getting back to this. I have to see a Cardiologist next week for the first time and right now I am being told by my GP not to even walk on the treadmill. I had been doing aerobic dance and strength training to stay in shape (and at 54 that's not so easy) and it's killing me right now that I can.t do any of this. Are you under any exercise restrictions? Did you experience shortness of breath with this? Thanks for sharing your experience with this...it is certainly scary to get this diagnosis (I was also told mine was an aneurysum).

    Bookmark   February 21, 2008 at 11:22AM
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HI,the only excerise my doctor recommended is walking and
I also have a lower back problem so I really can't do to
much walking because I feel it in my lower back. I agree
it is a scary diagnosis. Good luck with your visit to the
cardiologist and please let me know how you made out and what was said.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 7:58PM
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Thanks clubm, I'll let you know how I make out. Mine was measured at 4.3 - are you close to that?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 9:02AM
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I measured 4.5 cm. I was put on medications for blood
pressure and a beta blocker and a chorlestrol lower medication

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 8:36PM
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clubm - Went to the Dr on Friday. He's not too concerned about the enlargement, will do an echocardiogram, thallmus stress test and is sending me for a sleep apnea test. He thinks my shortness of breath may be due to acid reflux and an extremely narrow airway. So I may not be too bad after all. He said if the stress test goes well, I can go back to exercising like I was before. Thanks for your input on this - hope all continues to go well for you.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 10:22AM
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Hi Finnie,glad all went well. I have an echo done once a year. I"ve had a stress test done also a few years ago. They
are just keeping a watch on it. Did they give you any
reason for it? I was told mine was due to my high blood pressure and went on medication. Good Luck with your

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 10:49AM
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clubm - No, he didn't give me a reason - I will ask him when I see him on Mar 28th for my stress test. I actually have low blood pressure, so it will be interesting to hear why he thinks I have this.

Thanks for your good wishes!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 3:03PM
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Finnie,let me know what he has to say. I know smoking
can cause them also. I'm a former smoker,so maybe that
played a part also with me. Diet also can enlarge the aorta.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 12:54PM
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Hi Marilyn - I had the nuclear stress test on Friday. All went well and the Dr says everything looks good (I had an echocardiagram done earlier in the month also). He doesn't feel I need any medication at this time and will check me again in 5 years. I asked him why I could have gotten this and he really didn't have an explanation for it - he says sometimes it just happens. My BP is good, all the valves are working properly and he said I can exercise "my brains out". My BP got up to 190/90 at the fastest part of the test and came right back down. I was initially 130/90 when I got to the Dr's office which is kinda high for me, I'm normally 100-115/70, but I think I was really nervous about gettting the needle in my hand for the dye and going in the "tube" for the pictures of my heart (I'm extremely claustrophobic). He doesn't feel I need any BP meds at this point. I do still feel short of breath and am scheduled for a sleep disorder study on Friday...I guess to see if I am breathing continuously at night. If that is normal, which I think it will be, I would say it all boils down to asthma, which is what I thought it was from the very beginning (after alot of $ and taking time off from work for these tests). But at least I know I might be around for a while! :) I hope you continue to do well also.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 10:45AM
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Hi Finnie,Great news!!!!!!! Glad it all went well. I
go his friday for my Echo and the following Friday for
the results. Will let you know my results.
Keeping fingers crossed that everything is the same as last year. How did your sleep disorder study go?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 1:09PM
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Hi Marilyn - The sleep study went well also. No sleep apnea (but I REALLY do snore). I saw my allergist last week and she did another breathing test and I'm still only at 68 (up from 62) but I'm done. No more for now - I want to get back to exercising, walking and getting some of the weight off that I put back on and hopefully that will help the breathing situation. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. I just want to get back to normal and feel good again and I think I need to go back to my old routine and see how I feel. If I have any more problems I'm going to a pulmonologist, but for right now I'm staying put (but I'll be exercising while I'm doing that).

I hope you do great on the test and your results are fantastic!! Let me know...


    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 10:54AM
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Hi Finnie,Sorry I didn't get back sooner. I need to go
for a CT to see if it has gotten bigger from the last time
it was measured. I'll let you know the results. How are
you doing?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 11:35PM
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Hi Marilyn,
I'm doing well, thanks. Having some sciatica problems right now and going for physical therapy (it's always something isn't it?). But I'm back to my regular exercise routine and the breathing seems to have gotten better. I hope your CT goes well.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 10:20AM
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Hi guys,
My name is Alex Mullins, I'm 18 years old and I too have a enlarged aorta. What Finnie went through was almost excactly what happened to me. I was having a hard time getting that deep satisfying breath, and I was trying so hard to catch it that I would actually make myself light headed. I went to the doctor because I thought it was asthma, when he told me I had to get more test because I might have a heart problem, I was in shock. I thought to myself "I'm 18 years old, I have always been involved in sports and always been in shape, this has got to be a mistake." Sure enough, if was true and when the doctor told me I couldn't play really any sports or anything physical, I was devastated. I played Ice hockey for going on 6 years and that was all of a sudden taken from me. I don't know, It just really sucks being my age and have to worry about my blood pressure, It feels pathetic. I'm also really sorry that you guys have to deal with this too. I know it sucks.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 10:25AM
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Hi Alex,
I don't know if anyone will respond, since the original post is a bit old. Sorry to hear of your problems.
I just wanted to say that sometimes it helps to keep things in perspective. At least you didn't drop dead during a hockey game. I know it really depresses you now, but try to focus on how much of a good life you have left. Yes, there might be some limitations, but there are still lots of great, interesting, exciting things ahead for you.
We've all been in your place at one time or another........had things taken away from us, and it seemed so unfair. But you will build your life in a different way now, and it will still be a great life for you! Best of luck to you Alex! Try to stay positive.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 3:12PM
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Hi again Alex,
Just wanted to be sure you're seeing a good cardiologist. Maybe even an adolescent cardiologist. Did your doc say it was a congenital problem? Did he bring up Marfan's?

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 7:38PM
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Hi I am a bit confused as I was reading this I saw the different sizes and what need to be done I had a 4.0 a year ago and now it is 4.2 my Doc told me not to worry about it and we will check it in 6 months anyone have any idea.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 6:30AM
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Did you experience a soreness on your left side upper quandrant. I have had this for over a year, and I am concerned. My father had a aneurysm on his aorta that required emergency surgery. Is this a symptom of that condition?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 11:35AM
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I am 32 years old and went to the doctors last week for a physical. After feeling my stomach for awhile he told me I needed to come back for a ultra sound cause I have an enlarged aorta....I have been very nervous cause i also have the shortness in breathe and I am very interested to find out about the prevoius post with the pain on the left side I have been experiencing that for a few weeks myself. I guess I just dont understand what can cause this and what steps needs to be taken to resolve it???

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 3:45PM
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My name is Vinny & I am a 61 year male who stays in good shape. Yesterday I was diagnosed with an enlarged aorta.
It started a couple of weeks ago when I had my routine stress test that came up abnormal showing a blockage in one of the main arteries. I asked my doctor for a cardiac (heart) catheterization and he agreed. While the catheterization showed no blockage at all, it did show the enlarged aorta which the doctor said he was surprised to see.
After he explained to me after the procedure what was going on & doing some research that is where all the confusion started. He told me the enlargement was mild & when I saw his report he described it as the supravalvular aortogram revealed considerable enlargement of the entire ascending aorta with the loss of the sinotubular ridge  doesnÂt sound good to me.

Then the doctor told me the normal size of the aorta should be 4.0 or less and the danger zone is anything greater than 6. All that contradicts what I am reading about an enlarged aorta  most notably the one that said if the enlargement is greater than 5 centimeters, surgical repair is indicated in order to prevent a rare but fatal condition called aortic dissection or rupture; this was the cause of death for actor John Ritter. Scary isnÂt it.

I have an aortic MRA scheduled next week to determine the exact size & then we will take it from there.

Thanks to everyone listening to my story & good luck to everyone going thru this.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 8:39PM
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Hey,Im Carly Smith, i know this post is a bit old but i decided to reply anyways :) I've been looking online about enlarged aortas, and i found this. I'm 15(16 on April 16th) and i was diagnosed with an enlarged Aorta last year, around my 15th birthday. Its something that just developed, it was not there two years ago, i know this because i have been seeing a cardiologist once a year since i was born due to the fact i was born with Aortic Stenosis, a bicuspid aortic valve, and then developed Aortic regurgitation at 10. i have a multitude of symptoms because, i have other problems on top of the enlarged aorta. Right now my cardiologist told me not to play Contact sports. Even though that is the only restriction he gave me, i still don't play any type of sports(contact or not) or run around much because i have really bad shortness of breath, and i cant even run up the stairs without getting extremely out of breath. i also get a lot of other strange symptoms, but I'm not sure which heart defect causes it. I get chest pain, which will radiate into my neck, and upper back(by my left shoulder blade) and this pain will also make my left arm go numb, and tingly. Also when i stand up sometimes, i get very dizzy, i see black spots then everything goes black and then it all clears up. Also sometimes my hand(s) or feet(s) will get cold but the rest of me wont be, sometimes just one had feels like ice well the other is warm. Its very annoying, and sometimes my hand/feet are so cold the ache. I am also very tired all the time, not quite sure why that is. My heart at times also will "flutter" i guess is the only way to explain it. Its an odd sensation, kind of like its shaking, and trying to fly out of my chest. other times, it just starts beating very hard, instead of fluttering. Also, i have trouble getting a deep, full breath of air. It just doesn't feel like I'm getting a deep satisfying breath of air. I see my cardiologist in about a week or two, so i will see what he says then. I also see my normal doctor on Thursday, i will mention some of my problems to her also. Since i was put on restriction of sports, and i have trouble out of breath, its been hard because i was going to get into Karate, then i was told i cant. I also had to quit gymnastics, because i just didn't have the energy, and i got out of breath all the time, so i wasn't able to do it anymore. It sucks not being able to do things a normal kid my age can do. I've always been an active kid, i always loved running around playing sports and things like that, but now each day it gets harder and harder to do normal things. The only thing that makes having heart disease easier, is going to camp for kids with heart disease, there i am considered normal, and not the sick kid. I haven't had any surgery yet, but my cardiologist said that within the next few years i will be having my first surgery, which in a way I'm looking forward to the surgery, because i will be able to go back to being a normal kid, running around and not worrying about health problems and just living my life. So ya that's about it....at least all i can think of at the moment :)

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 6:53PM
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Hi I posted earlier on this thread. I also suffer from a
enlarged aorta. Just wondering how everyone is doing also
ane how Vinny made out with his MRA. Mine meassures 4.6.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 4:18PM
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Oh wow! I also have trouble getting, as you describe, that satisfying breath. I have had it on and off for as long as I can remember, but it is not constant. In fact, it has only seemed to resurface these last few months. It seems to only happen when I focus on it. I don't have a problem (that I know of) during sleep. I do have upper back aching which I attributed to years of carrying children. But again, that only started sometime before Christmas. Anyway, this is scary because my mother has a history of heart problems. Now at 83, they think she may have aortic stenosis.

Another thing is that my arms go numb EVERY night. One or the other or both EVERY night. I've been seeing a chiropractor, but it's not helping.

I have taught aerobics classes for the last 20 years. I always felt my heart was in great shape. I can get through classes with no problem. I have very good stamina. Regardless, I think I'll make myself an appointment for a full physical.

I'm sorry for those of you that have to go through this. I really hope my problems are musculoskeletal. I'll post back again when I see a doctor.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 6:49PM
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I measured at 5.0. I am meeting with a Cardiothoracic surgeon at 9:00 today to find out what my options are. I will get it fixed, it is just what approach I will take. I am not one of those people who will not sit around to see if it get worse.

My decision is based on the answer to one question that I asked - Can it ever get any better? Answer - NO - it will stay the same or get worse.

I will keep in touch. Good luck to everyone and my prayers are with you.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 7:52AM
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Please keep us posted nyvinman. I would like to know what
your final decision was and how your feeling. Mine in being watch at this moment for now.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 2:54PM
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Hello everyone, I am an Aortic Dissection survivor. It all started one day, thought I was having a heart attack when I really had a Pulmonary Embolis and a DVT. That was a close one. I was put on blood thinners and was told that would be for rest of life. They found this by CT scan. Supposedly no Aortic Dissection yet. So 2 months later, I felt ripple go down chest. Rushed to Naval Hospital (I'm a retiree) and they tried to figure what was going on. Did CT scan and found the Aortic Dissection from the heart to where it branches off to the legs. My aorta was 6.2 cm. I was at Naval for 4 extra hours while they were waiting on a doctors decesion from a local hospital before they finally airlifted me to the hospital that said 4 hrs earlier they would do it. Time is critical. I call mine John Ritter syndrome. They did emergent open heart surgery, replaced my ascending aorta and aortic valve. I still have an active dissection and get CT scans yearly. I am on 4 different blood pressure meds, blood thinners and other meds. I also had to have my left leg amputated above the knee because the original dissection cut off blood flow to the leg. This all wouldn't have happened if they had said something 2 months earlier. The first CT scan showed my aorta at 5.1 cm. I really thank Naval Hospital for the great care (not). No one spoke up and said something at the time. If someone had, I might still have my left leg!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 12:59AM
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Hi, I'm 18 years old and i was diagnosed with an enlarged aorta as a complication of a bicuspid aortic valve. I had a ECG done twice in the past year and it showed a growth of .3 mm from 4.3 cm to 4.6 cm . I'm currently on a low dose of beta blockers but as a college student I'm wondering if stress could play a part in the growth. Any ideas? As an 18 year old college student the prospect of having major heart surgery before I turn twenty is a very scary ordeal. My cardiologist gave only very vague information on what i can do to slow the growth. I am an active guy ie I run regularly and am playing soccer this semester. Any helpful information that anyone could give me would be great. Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 10:50PM
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Hi Sean and John;

Went to see my doc today about a lumbar Xray - showed an enlarged aorta, which was something of a shock! Next step ultrasound, then CT and ECG.
I'm 51 and used to be incredibly fit: golf, martial arts, gym, badminton, walking etc.
No meds as yet, but if interested will keep you informed. Marilyn, if you still monitor, how are you?
Scary, considering my previous level of fitness.

Regards, and my best wishes to all.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 1:21PM
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HELLO i'm jake i have been diagnosed with an enlrdged AORTA i have had to to quit soccer and basketball though i'm only 11 i am 5"8" very tall for a sixth grader at one point and time i had toquit the saxaphone.i just want to know if there's anyone who's in my position right now i wonder if there's anyone who has had coach's look at them and ask why don't you play this and that and over and over again you have to say no then they ask why and you have to tell then you have an enlarged AORTA and they know nothing about it and they say things like "well you can still just take your meds and stuff" well its not that easy docters tellyou that you have ristritions but they insist on talking to your cardiologist to try to work something out so you walk away and never come back because you dont want to talk about it and you insist on trying to avoid coaches so you dont have to go that again.



    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 12:04AM
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My husband was told by his Dr. at the VA Hospital here that people (esp. men) who are/had been smokers should have an abdominal ultrasound done as they can develop an aortic aneurism later which can be fatal. Husband had it done & was fine thankfully. Odd, our regular family Dr. never mentioned this!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 9:03PM
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Well vieja some docters dont mention alot of things but now they should take every posibility into account

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 3:39PM
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It seems like I jump from 1 fire 2 another.I was diagnosis with enlarged aorta dr.said it was nothing 2 worry about,I'm 53 dr.said we'll check it again when I'm 65.(Is the doc. right ?) you all will be in my prayers and hope all be well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 8:05PM
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My husband got into a shoving match with a car salesman in 02. Complained of left shoulder pain that evening and I insisted he get it checked at ER - thinking it could be a shoulder tear or dislocation. He called and said he was being admitted in the intensive care for he had a heart attack? WHAT?!! It was late, so he said stay home - I feel fine. It's just precaution. ok....
He was transferred to Chicago where HIS doc was and they ran ALL the tests. He had a spontaneous dissection of the obtuse marginal branch. A good area to have one, if you are so inclined *pregnant women are known to get these during birth for they arise during PHYSICAL exertion. Like my husband's pushing/shoving between he and the salesman.

He was in GREAT physical condition. They found a bit of an enlargement due to possibly an untreated child illness - rhuematic fever was mentioned. Hmm, who knew?

Now, he is on meds. 10 years later. He is fine. Works. DOES NOT SMOKE or DRINK!! I wish he would follow MY diet of organic and no gluten and work out with me....but he says his doctor is his health manager and he takes medicine, instead.

Ok, then.

Take care of your health with DIET, too!! :)

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 11:43AM
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I would definitely get a second opinion, guitarman. Where is yours

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 2:31PM
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